The smash hit production of Funny Girl starring Sheridan Smith and Darius Campbell will hit cinemas across the UK from tonight.
It couldn’t have been planned better, with one of Barbra Streisand’s other most iconic roles in A Star is Born also being thrust back into the spotlight and, no matter how you feel about Lady Gaga, you can rest assured that Sheridan Smith is the real deal. Her Fanny Brice is a manic, hilarious, insecure force of nature, who grabs the audience’s love and adoration while simultaneously making us feel deeply for her.
The cinematic release of this Funny Girl is a wonderful and rare chance to get a glimpse of its first West End revival since the 1960s. As such, a lot of the audience might be more familiar with the music from Glee than the original show and film, with Lea Michele becoming as synonymous with its big numbers as Streisand before her.
That’s no bad thing, because the musical performances are strong enough to wipe all previous interpretations from your mind, and numbers such as duet ‘You Are Woman, I Am Man’ are riotous highlights that elicit the holy grail of musical comedy – performers having to pause to a) break character slightly, and b) wait for the audience to gather themselves from laughing.
The inherent flaws of the show remain, of course, with the juxtaposition of Fanny as a feminist icon and her reliance on a man for fulfillment clashing even more in 2018. Campbell’s strong performance helps, as his Nick Arnstein is as pathetic as he is charming, putting the audience ahead of the game in the realisation that he’s no good for our heroine.
But it hardly matters, because the show is such a good time and brings together so many great performances. ‘Makes the role her own’ is a cliche but, with Sheridan Smith, it may just be apt.
Buy tickets here.